Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Type of Quilter Are You?


My favorite quilts are free-pieced out of scraps and strings, orphans and leftover strips. I love making something out of almost nothing and doing so without rules or regulations of any kind, and then giving almost everything I make away. So, I consider myself to be primarily a liberated, charity quilter.

But other quilters often find themselves at odds as to what constitutes their own primary style or focus. Do you see yourself as primarily a traditional quilter, modern or liberated quilter, or perhaps as an artist or art quilter?

I've discovered that stating one's opinion on what type of quilter they are can often lead to active discussions...even some disagreements...as each of us views ourselves, and others, differently than we do ourselves. So, I worked out some potential descriptive categories for "What Type of Quilter Are You?"

Traditional Quilter: You love the history of quilting and the patterns created and carried down through time by our pioneer ancestors and forebears. You tend to use pattern and love the look of traditional quilting above all other forms. Making a "Dear Jane' quilt once in your life is a goal of dedication, perseverance and the love of history,craft, and art form combined. But you might also adore the color values, tradition, and use of style and form in Civil War or Reproduction quilts.

Folk Art Quilter: Folk Art Quilters are often a blend or a fusing of many techniques used by traditional, applique, and art quilters. Utilizing expressive designs and often incorporating muted blending of colors with a predominant use of applique, one thinks of the bright modern, liberated works of Mary Lou Weidman or the rich traditional patterns and heart warming colors of Tonye Phillips. You love the comfy, cozy feel of quilts and quilting, but also have a deep inner need to express that love with characteristic symbols and meaning infused into the very story of the quilts you make.

Liberated Quilter:
Liberated quilters like to see themselves as using the best of two worlds...the traditions of those quilters who have gone before us, and a fun, free-piecing approach to intuitive quilting without following rules or allowing the inner quilt police person to constantly critique or challenge our work. An offset style of folkart quilting in many ways, it tends to incorporate more tone on tone fabrics or very brights. Liberated quilters often include free-pieced letters, and wonky versions of traditional patterns. The liberated stars, wonky churn dashes, strip pieced strings or flip and stitch flowers, animals, birds, and fish often distinguish them from other forms of quilting. Based on Gwen Marston's iconic 1994 book 'Liberated Quiltmaking', with her string quilting and liberated stars and houses, the movement has gone on to embrace Tonya Ricucci's free pieced alphabet letters, asterisks,houses, and stars and Bonnie Hunters more scrappy and fast pieced free piecing of traditional blocks, strings and orphan pieces, as well as developing a variety of techniques and styles among the many individual quilters.

Modern Quilter: Modern quilting is a new twist on the traditional art of quilting, once liberated and twice removed. This may mean something as simple as using a traditional quilt block and updating it in a fresh fun new way, using modern and often dramatic or unusual fabrics, modifying the block arrangement or even the scale of the block. It often uses bars and strips in unique ways where the emphasis is on design as a focus.The piecing could be improvisational and wonky, or it could be very exact and measured, following a pattern or creating your own. It might use a traditional stippling for quilting, clean straight lines, or a very free style. Fabrics could be up-cycled vintage sheets, custom digital printed fabric, or something from one of the modern fabric designers. Usually, there is a predominance of white spaces and fabric for a fresh, modern look such as that personified by Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio or the wonderful artistic combinations of Victoria, at the Silly Boo Dilly.

Art Quilter: Art quilters frequently began as artists in other media who discover a love of fabric or mixed media and use the craft of quilting as a form of multiple self expression. Often seeing the art quilt as the best of all worlds, they allow complete freedom of self-expression outside of any confines of the traditional pieced quilt. Using multi-dimensional techniques and materials, their quilts delight the senses and fill us with the wonder of 'how in the world did they do that' wonder. And I have to add, that amongst the most lovely of art quilts are those with specific value and purpose, such as those inspired by the amazing energy of Ami Simms and her Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative where we can all become art quilters with the creation of small 9"x12" art quilts or 4"x6" postcards and one can also become an art collector by bidding on or buying one of these lovelies;)

Fused Quilter: Sometimes viewed as art quilts, sometimes as fused applique' quilts, the art of fused quilting may have become famous due to the talent and hard work of the likes of the Chicago School of Fusing and Laura Wasilowski, Melody Johnson, and Frieda Anderson. It has developed as its own distinct quilt art form due to the bold use of design elements and color within the exploration of fused fabrics and modern quilted elements, as well as their creative use of music and theatre.

Crazy Quilters: To the Victorians the word "crazy" not only meant wild, but also broken or crazed into splinters. And 'Crazy Quilting' as a textile art is definitely creative and free-flowing by nature. As you add crazy quilt pieces and patches, you will often learn as much about the use of specific stitches or embellishments (and your love and obsession with them), as you will about your 'crazy quilting self' in the process. So, when it comes to self expression and liberation, being crazy is a whole lot of fun.

Kit Quilters: More of a subset to traditional quilters but often branching out into the kit quilting of even the Gees Bend approach, kit quilters may love the look of free pieced quilts but are not always ready to work from scratch and are more comfortable using patterns and quilt tutorials. With an interest in precision and color matching, as well as interest in saving time, they almost always buy their quilting materials pre-packaged or grouped.

Machine Quilter: The quilting culture is a living culture. Machine Quilters are wise to the fact that their ancestors jumped at the chance to use sewing machines to piece their quilts. The become 'machine quilters' when their quilting for others exceeds their piecing and quilting for themselves. They may give a nod to the past with their precise corner matching and the fact that they can finish a king size quilt in a month without the need of a quilting bee. Their ancestors would be amazed but most of us are simply jealous of their ability to be both creative and prolific at the same time.

Hand Quilters: Hand quilters really and truly are a special group of their very own. Those who love and honor this traditional and time consuming art, have to be commended and admired. Facing carpel tunnel, a bible bump and the beginning symptoms of arthritis, they steadfastly quilt away. You can often recognize them from the sheer number of band-aids on their fingers and the intent, somewhat glazed look on their faces. They are as much a 'group' as machine quilters, because while they mostly likely have their own favorite form of quilting...they stand out in their own group as hand quilters, as well. Traditionalists considering hand quilting a necessity, and an almost religious fervor and sense of responsibility to their cherished handiwork. For the true hand quilter, anything else is a cop out to time constraints or laziness ;) And yes, I have a tongue in my cheek and am totally jealous by their tiny stitches!!

My favorite quilt is ALWAYS the one that I'm working on, so I offer it here with a big shout out to the Spring Quilt Festival at Amy's (Park City Girl) Creative Side I had it bookmarked and on my list all week and I'm almost too late to enter in her virtual quilt show. It's always so much fun checking out all of the blogs and seeing the fabulous quilts. I just know I'll find even more categories to add to this post, later!

What Type of Quilter Are You?

shown above:
My last little project out of cast-offs and orphans. A liberated collection of orphan blocks pieced together with a liberated free-pieced back. Symbolizing the layers that build up not only a quilt, but ourselves, as well as we quilt for a sense of individual accomplished and creative expression.

30 comments:

  1. I'm a very new quilter and could fit into several of the types of quilter. I've only just finished my second one and am definately a machine quilter, I think I'm going to end up being an art quilter as I love to incorporate lots of different things into my quilts like buttons, bows and anything else i fancy putting on them. Pam

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  2. I am a Modern Machine Quilter, combination of each!

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  3. Here's my take: I'm a Modern Fused Machine quilter. Should I throw in Art? Dunno.

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  4. First thing that came to my mind...I am a messy quilter! Is that category? I stray across all the categories, mostly scrappy, some hand quilting, and have just started a Dear Jane...hmmm, I love it all!!

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  5. I am a Modern Fused Machine quilter. I like scrap quilts but not string quilts and I often change a pattern when I am making a quilt. If the quilt is too small, I make it grow to the size I want or I change the method of making the blocks.

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  6. Michele, I loved reading your descriptions of quilters. I imagine many quilters have been more than one type throughout their quilting history. I'm a liberated quilter, hand quilter, and applique quilter-that last one being my own addition to your list.

    Did you know that Karen at selvageblog.blogspot and at quiltersmuse.blogspot is having a contest about "If you were a quilt, what kind of quilt would your be?" Here is a link to her post (on 5/27)about this:

    http://selvageblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/new-quilt-challenge-if-you-were-quilt.html
    Kathleen C. in CT

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  7. I'm a traditionally liberated modern art quilter... is that a category? Actually, I think that it happens to a lot of us that we start with one style and over time evolve into another or more styles. I design (commercially) in one style, but in my own work tend towards more free-style techniques these days, but when I want to really relax, will probably choose a traditional pattern and sit and hand quilt at that. Thank you for challenging this thought process!

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  8. I don't like to be labeled or put into any kind of box, so as soon as someone I think I might be one thing or another, I surprise them with something else. I like it all!

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  9. I'm a traditional machine quilter. Inspired by the old quilts, but also love my machine. The beauty of quiltmaking is we can all be whoever we want and switch it up anytime we want. Thanks for the topic.

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  10. wow! That's a lot of different kinds of quilters you've got listed there! hmmm...I think I'm somewhere in the liberated, art, traditional category. ;)
    I love making quilts out of little scraps too! I LOVE it! I think Scraps are one of my favorite kinds of fabrics!

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  11. I would call myself a liberated hand quilter (joint catagories) I currently have on my design wall my misfit blocks that have been clamouring out of my drawer and love the design aspect...hand quilting to me is a great joy!!

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  12. I am a colorful eclectic quilter ... but one thing I'm not is a kit quilter.

    Great post!

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  13. I am hmm what ever turns me on I guess I love brights, pastels,antiques,paper piecing, hand piecing etc. A little of everything to some extent.To me it just speaks to me . I like series, BOM,& mystery quilts also . Its hard to finish anything because so may things speak to me

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  14. I'm an artist who quilts. Each one unique, using whatever technique I feel will help me achieve the desired result.

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  15. Hey Michele, Very interesting commentary. I consider myself all of the above, except I am NOT a kit quilter or a hand quilter. (I have to "do" my own thing and I love to do machine work.) I consider quilting to be my passion and my obsession. My quilts are my art and the act of producing my art is my craft. I don't think there is anything about it that doesn't make my skirt fly up! Happy quilting!

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  16. I love your quilt and your description of the types of quilters. I am a novice quilter, who has many unfinished quilts! I love vintage quilts and learning something about who made them, and if there is a story behind them. And I love trying out different types...such as paper pieced, applique, patterns, free style, etc. I only wish that I was "retired" from working outside my home so that I could have more "free " time :o)

    Blessings & Aloha!
    (I finally have some free time so am trying to get to more amazing Quilt Festival posts!... so happy to see yours. I would love to have you pop over to my place. And if you get a chance, please let me know by leaving a comment. :o)

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  17. I guess I am a modern machine quilter- I am not sure where else I would fit Michele. I like traditional patterns but not traditional fabrics- I like liberated quilts but have not explored making liberated quilts. I have done a little fusing when exploring snippets but mostly prefer piecing to applique. I do not hand quilt and will never choose to hand quilt. I have too many quilts I want to make and not enough time to make them. I don't think that I am art quilter- I prefer making bed sized quilts that can be used to warm up and comfort my friends and loved ones.

    I think I am a mish mash quilter who plays with fabric and sometimes creates quilts..

    At some point, I want to make more quilts for loved ones and charity. There is just not enough time in my life to do those things just now.
    Interesting post Michele..
    Hope your arm/ wrist is recovering and that you and yours are doing well.
    Hugs,
    Anna

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  18. What a great post. I have to say I'm a traditional scrappy charity quilter. I have few quilts in my home has I love to donate quilts to charity. I've also started to stray a bit to become a liberated quilter. Hugs

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  19. I think I could slip into a few of these categories. I love the term "liberated".
    I teach a class and I am constantly trying to get them to free things up a bit. Perhaps if I use the term "liberated" with them they might be more open to the concept. A great post.
    Deborah

    I just have to add that the word verification is 'bitypece'. Very apt for a quilting blog don't you think?

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  20. I'm still giggling over the term "Feral Quilter"! I'm just messy and obsessed.

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  21. I'm an amalgam of all the categories, I think, with exception of the machine-quilting as I don't do that. For some reason, I can never just focus on one facet of anything, no matter what the subject in life. I'm too interested in all sorts of ways to do things and sometimes I operate on sheer instinct. That makes it fun for me.

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  22. vibrant, fun quilting. thanks for sharing. have a great day. come visit me if you get a chance

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  23. I am an art quilter who uses a variety of techniques borrowed from applique, fabric dyeing, quilt painting, and a variety of other techniques. It's the subject of my art quilt designs that maybe sets me apart. I consider myself a quilting activist - in other words, my subjects involve themes such as social injustice, political dissent, spiritual awakening and personal experiences. Perhaps this puts me in the tradition of older political and social art poster political dissent artists, I just work in fabric. It's hard to categorize quilters. When I enter my quilts in exhibits, no one knows where to put them. I consider this a good thing! Check me out at: http://www.quiltingfromthegut.com

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  24. I am both a traditional quilter and a hand quilter. However, that may change since I have been unable to do any sewing since my hand surgery 4 months ago.

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  25. fascinating thoughts! Thanks for sharing.

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  26. By reading your descriptions on this topic indeed has open my view on how to decided which and what to make as a quilter. I would put myself in the traditional categories.

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  27. Traditional HandPiecer/Quilter
    Besides loving the tradition, and history, there's the convenience. It's always portable, no need for an outlet or having to stop to refill bobbins. Isn't it great, our different strokes for different folks, yet we all are quilter sisters.

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  28. Anonymous6:46 PM

    LAZY!!!

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  29. Guess I am caught between Liberated and Crazy Quilter. I love to RELAX and piece by hand. I usually have more than one quilt in progress. At the same time crochet for family in the northern climate of Iowa.

    Just found your site while looking for template for hexagon (small) English pieced quilt.

    Thank you for such a wonderful site.

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  30. Thank you for a beautiful inspiring blog. kep up the good work. Thanks again!

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.